Friday, 5 February 2016

Museums & Children

We have had a very pleasant afternoon taking our children to my favourite museum, the British Museum. We particularly wanted to visit a few exhibits that fit in with the history we are studying at the moment - lion hunting friezes from Nineveh, Greek pots, and Egyptian mummies among others. Even our four year old enjoyed herself; her favourite bits were the Egyptian mummies and the books from the library of Nineveh.

Taking children to museums - particularly ones which are primarily geared towards adults - can be fun or disastrous. We have taken our children to museums since they were very small, and have developed a few strategies to help us all to enjoy ourselves and (hopefully) learn something.

1) Chocolate biscuits. Before we go in, everyone has a biscuit to prevent tiredness grumps setting in after a few minutes.

2) Less is more. We prefer to see a few things and enjoy them than to slavishly look at everything. Of course, this is easier if a museum is nearby rather than a long visit away. However, I think it is better to have thoroughly enjoyed a few interesting objects and want to return than to have done a museum to death and never want to visit a museum again! I aim to leave while the children are still happy.

3) "One More Thing". Having said that, once children start to get restless, we may suggest one more thing that they will particularly enjoy looking at. They know that we won't make them stay forever, and we get to fit in just a little more.

4) Purpose. We usually go with a clear idea of what we want to visit that day. It may fit in with a current interest of the children, or with a particular area of our curriculum, or it may simply be that we feel that it has been too long since we visited the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum. Of course, if any of us want to visit an extra gallery, we will probably fit that in too.

5) Bring a Picnic. Museum tea shops can be expensive, but lots of museums have nearby parks where you can eat a sandwich and let children run and make a bit of noise. We've had picnics in the dark before, and in the rain! The children love this - and we can afford to go out more often. Some museums (such as the Science Museum in London) even have picnic areas inside.

6) Silliness. No need to be too earnest - or not all the time! Children will enjoy looking for weird things, or asking silly questions - and this doesn't mean that they won't be interested in more in depth discussions too.

Posing with the lion hunting frieze.

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